the Habs

Why are the Canadiens also called the Habs? I imagine it’s some silly French thing, but I’ve never heard or seen an explanation.

“Some silly French thing”?

In French, the team is known as “Les Habitents Canadiennes” (spelling? Ha, I have enough trouble spelling in English) which means, more or less, the “People of Canada”.

Hence “The Habs”.

“Habs” is short for “Les Habitantes” which has been another nickname for the Canadiens.

It is short for Les Habitants…

French Canadiens are the real habitants (residents) of Canada, as opposed to the English.

Myth revealed:
In the Montreal Canadiens’ Jerseys, there is an “H” in the middle of the “C” and the H stands for Hockey, while the C stands for Club…as in Club De Hockey…most think the H is for Habs and the C is for Canadiens…which is a popular myth.

These two convos (about Habs and the C and H) usually wind up together.

Philster is correct. The H on the sweater stands for Hockey as in Club de Hockey Canadien.

However, Habs is short for “habitant”, a French word that was used to denote the farmers of Quebec.

Since many of the French players on the team came from the farms around Quebec, they were therefore called “habitants” or “Habs”. In the 30s, the Canadiens were considered Montreal’s French" team, as opposed to the primairly “English” Montreal Maroons, and the nickname stuck.

Thanks for the scoop. And most French things are silly, especially French Canadien things.

The English here in Montreal good naturedly tease our French-speaking friends that the CH stands for “centre hice”.

Silence from the teeming masses…

I guess that’s just about as much as a location joke that there ever was.

I guess you’d have to understand hockey and life in a bilingual french-english community to get it.

Oh well…that one was a little wide of the net.

That’s funny…But with jokes like that, it’s no wonder Quebec’s French Canadian population wants to secede from the rest of Canada.

By philster:

Argh! Rarely does a hockey thread appear, as I opened this I was ready to share this tidbit of knowledge that I’d learned while playing hockey on playstation. I hate to think that those hours of sitting in front of the TV playing video games was completely useless!

I got it, I thought it was funny. We had a French-Canadien on our hockey team, and I can just picture him saying that.

It’s bad enough that every thread about France has to degenerate into bashing the French. Now we have to do it with threads about French-speaking Canada?

Come on guys, help a mod out here.

Well you caught me. Nothing like hearing Francophone Quebecers talk English. Remember Chretien referring to Reform as the** turd** party. Oh well, the Bloc Quebecois have that title now. By the way , one day I’ll find that funny poem in Qebecois English about the short stop in baseball. I can’t remember the author, or the title, and I haven’t come across it in 40 years, but it was one of the funniest poems I have ever come across.[/hijack]

What, you mean as opposed to the Algonkin, Cree, Huron, Mi’kmaq, Chippewa, Naskapi, Attikamek, Mashteuiatsh, etc?

I always thought ‘Habitants’ was the french term for ‘home team’
as in, on the scoreboard, ‘habitants - visiteurs’ (home - visitors)
iirc, that’s what’s marked on french scoreboards…


Duh: The “real” residents of Canada “relative” to the English.

Please, let’s not get into the “who was here/there first routine”

We’ll call the oldest known natives to the land Les Habitants…okay? Would that make you happy?

Okay everybody, listen up!!! Just to be as historically accurate as possible, Chas wants us to declare the oldest know natives of Quebec as “Les Habitants”!!! The French are scamming us by being known as Les Habitants. Chas has a startling new discovery: The French are NOT Les true Habitants.

Nice Freakin’ News Flash, Chas.

Look, Chas - They (French) are Les Habitants because someone long before me was ignorant to the fact that some other groups might be Les real/originale Habitants.

Actually, when pollsters ask French-speaking Quebecers if they want Quebec to “secede” or “separate” from Canada, most say Non Merci.

It is only when that ambiguous term “sovereignty” is used that the number gets to about 50 percent of French-speaking Quebecers.

I checked my French to English dictionary and the literal translation of les habitant is “inhabitant”. Therefore, I believe it would refer to anyone living in that region; Native American, French Canadian, English Canadian, resident alien, whatever…as long as you’re speaking French.

As for why the Canadiens are called the Habs, see my original post. I got that off the Montreal Canadiens website. They should know…


“Bashing”?!!? Es-tu malade? Je crois que vous avez manque le point de l’histoire. C’etait une blague, partager par le monde, partout a Montreal.

Quick …read that sentence aloud without making any erors in pronounciation that a francophone might find humourous…if you did and they snickered would they be guilty of Manhattan-bashing?

Hockey is religion in this town and nowhere do the politics of Quebec evaporate more quickly than at the neighbourhood outdoor rink where Quebecers of all origins gather to play nightly in the cool crisp air (you’ll excuse me if I wax poetic), and speak the common language of pucks, sticks and blades. Respect hinges upon “sportspersonship” if you must, love of the game and skill.

(Which is not to say that a Toronto-Montreal matchup is not especially rivalrous, perhaps on account of politics, but since when are sport rivalries ever consider politically incorrect “bashing” anyway. Aren’t you supposed to demonize the other side?)

Back to the original issue…Did you fail to notice the carefully selected diction … “good-naturedly” and “friends”?

Whereas I would not dare speak on behalf of french-speaking Quebecers, there is a general recognition that the linguistic habit of the Quebecois(e) does not lend itself to the easy, struggle-free pronounciation of the english “h”.

It goes both ways, if anything with a leaning in favour of the French. Everyone agrees that French is more difficult to learn that English, and in Quebec, the English are a minority.

Trust me, I speak French to the best of my ability with a heavy english accent that amuses and entertains many a Quebecois(e). Grace a Dieu- if the likes of you predominated I’d be in some serious trouble.

I won’t even begin to start a list of sounds that my English-trained tongue stumbles over. People with the slightest goodwill and perspective enjoy the ribbing that flows both ways.

French speakers tease me that as a native Ontarian, I have relocated from a place where “they have/had nothing” *(ont-a-rien). Grammatically, it’s a bit of a stretch, just as is the “centre-hice” thing, but jokes with built-in translations just don’t fall in your lap.

Hell, the greatest English hockey film ever made played up on the charm of Quebecois english…do you not recall Dick Cavett’s side-splitting interview with the Quebecois defenseman in Slapshot?

For another great hockey film with a similar feel, this one in French, check out Les Boys…there a couple of cracks at Anglo-French in that movie that are priceless.

All of this is to repeat my assertion within the original post that you’d have to “enjoy” life wherein French-english bilingualism is commonplace, lest one might leap to the assumption that some group is being savagely “bashed”

Stop by tonight when we lace-up nos patins avec nos voisins, and you’ll understand what I mean.

I should have been more clear. My remark was directed at the OP and his description of all things French and French Canadian as “silly.”

“Centre hice” was actually pretty funny.

Is the first line is “I go me once to baseball game / I laugh and then some more”?

That was a recitation that someone would give in nearly every one of my small-town Ontario community concerts. Haven’t thought of it in ages!

I just googled the first line, but nothing popped up.